Time on my hands

… or the art of procrastination.
I am busy.  Rushed off my feet. By tomorrow evening I will have seen my husband for 16 hours since Monday morning and we’ll have been asleep for more than 12 of those. Not good.
We’re still surrounded by boxes from moving house (but as of today we have a bed for the first time in 4 months – oh the luxury! I feel like I’m in a hotel! But the strategically placed shirt hanging off the window frame in lieu of the blinds that have not yet arrived will no longer be at the right angle to block out the street lamp – d’oh!)
I’m busy trying to stop my toddler scratching his hugely increased eczema, stop him leaping off the now-higher-than-he-expects parental bed and get him away from the joys of BBC iplayer and into bed so that he can get to nursery without tirdness dark circles under his eyes.
There’s no respite in the day either.  I’m busy at work with so many things happening at the same time and a general election in the offing which adds to the unpredictability.  On top of all this I’m trying to finalise my final project for the qualification I’m studying for – no mean feat when that’s additional to the day job.


So why have I now got rather fabulous “East village” In a New York Minute NYC nail color-painted nails? And why do I find this so pleasing?
(image from the fabulous www.mymakeupblog.blogspot.com – do visit that site! East village is the nail varnish at the top).

There’s too much going on.  I’m trying to manage it with lists and reminders in my phone.  I’m using all of my skills that I define as “ruthless prioritisation”.  But to keep sane I need some “me” time.  now many people would get away from it and go jogging, to the gym, may be jog to the gym.  But the toddler prevents this when there’s no other babysitting available.
I’ve bought myself more time by minimising my Facebook and Twitter time, but that’s freed up less than I think either my husband or I expected. I was hardly a heavy user (yes it’s the language of drugs – yet another report out today warning of the addictiveness of online life and warning that Facebook friends are not “real friends” – which is bleeding obvious when there’s no possibility of them minding the toddler for you while you get 5 minutes peace… only real in the sense of continued contact with people you care about or are interested in).
I’ve backed off for the next couple of weeks because it’s too easy to get sucked into commenting on the Pope’s pronoucements on the Equality Bill, Chris Addison’s spam friends email address problems, yummy mummy regime issues or Barroso’s Commissioner portfolios.  All this rather than just get the wretched CIPD project written!

So tonight I’m doing some work on my CIPD CTP project. I’m so tired I can barely remember what the acronyms stand for.  And the PowerPoint slides need me to manipulated the data first, to identify the method by which participants feel they learn most effectively. I need my toddler to be asleep to get to do this, but working on this after work means I’m tired and when I go to get into the nice new bed having done some of the assignment, I can’t switch off and so the whole cycle just perpetuates with me getting more irritable and less suitably in a frame of mind to do the best I can.

So I’m taking a few minutes out in what seems like pointless procrastination, painting my nails and getting a bit of a break before getting back down to it. Spending time on my hands, even though I’ve no time on my hands at all really. And writing this of course.   Taking a few minutes up could also free up my mind and allow for some of those leaps of inspiration, or even genius (but let’s not get carried away now).

Besides, they look pretty.

Can 2010 be a bit less complicated?

Looking around the blogosphere, it seems that many bloggers stop at New Year to reflect on the year they’ve had, and their aspirations for the coming year.  I’ve decided I’m going to do the same, in the hope that writing down some thoughts will make everything a bit less complicated.
I’m going to make some predictions and comments on the coming year, some personal, some bigger picture.

So 2009.  According to the Facebook statuses of many of my friends, very few people seem to have enjoyed 2009.  I’ve had better, to be honest.  If you look at it objectively, there’s a list of the most stressful things you can do in life and over the last couple of years I’ve done most of them: starting from autumn 2007 I’ve had a baby, we had a death in the family, I had a car crash and resultant injury, had a serially ill child, supported my husband through a career change, returned to work after maternity leave, changed job, handled complex situations at work, moved house, worked outside work hours and without work paying for it towards a qualification… I think I can be forgiven feeling a little stressed…

There have been good things too.  I’ve met some really nice and interesting people, found a lovely house which we’ve helped design so it feels like it’s especially for us, my son  has grown into a lovely toddler, my husband and I have passed the three year anniversary happily, David Tennant was in just about every TV programme over Christmas and I’ve started writing this blog on my very own website which has brought me into contact with some people I’d never have met without it and with whom I’ve done weird things like the euroblogger’s Skype meet-up…

So what does 2010 hold?

1) I will move house.  Again.  Hopefully I’ll not need to do so again for 20 years.
We spent most of 2009 moving house. At least that’s what it’s felt like.  Hopefully in three weeks time I can log on from my own, new house.  It’s so exciting!

2) I will complete my CIPD Certificate in Training Practice.
Did you see my description of myself as “almost a trainer” in the “About Me” blurb? 
I started my professional training qualification in 2006, but had to take time out because of maternity leave – I now need to complete my assessed project by March this year – so that’s a clear deadline.
Wish me luck – and if you need a trainer with my expertise, please do get in touch…

3) There will be a General Election in the UK
There has to be, constitutionally, at least every 5 years, and that’s June this year at the latest.
You know the old joke “it doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always gets in“? 
There are some differences between the approaches of the main parties (of course if not enough people turn out to vote in each seat under the first-past-the-post system, it’s not just the views of the candidates of the main parties you need to look for…) but there are certainly some similarities, not least in what is being spoken of in terms of cutting public services.  
It’s not clear who is intended to deliver services or ensure that public money is being spent properly by the service deliverers if they are not public servants, but it is clear that no one in the public sector can be complacent that there will always be a job for them, and the pension’s probably not going to remain a golden asset either over the next 40-odd years. 
Elections offer a chance to redefine government-servant relationships, and I understnad that this thinking is underway so I really hope that the role of the civil service and public services are being properly thought out and not just seen as a wodge of public spending to be slashed.

4) International and EU issues will matter even more…
The outcome of the climate change talks in Copenhagen showed that acting big gets you a seat at the top table – the players in getting the deal that mattered were Obama for the USA (population 304,059,724) with the leaders of South Africa (pop 48,687,000), India (pop 1,139,964,932), Brazil (pop 191,971,506) and China (pop 1,325,639,982) . 
While the South Africans have a relatively low population to be part of this grouping, with South Africa and Brazil representing developing continents and growing populations, getting a deal meant having them there. 
But continent-wise, Europe is absent from the top table.
North America, South America, Asia, Africa but the fifth Olympic ring is completely absent. 
Now look at the Daily Mail’s reporting of the deal…

Copenhagen climate change summit delegates have recognised a US-backed agreement on climate change, passing a motion this morning.
The decision follows a US-led group of five nations – including China – tabling a last-minute proposal that US President Barack Obama called a ‘meaningful agreement’.
The fudged deal – backed by Britain, America, South Africa, India, Brazil and China – came after a day of bitter rows and divisions in which the United Nations talks came close to collapse.

Britain?  My understanding from the press was that Britain was not part of the deal, relucantly accepted it as better than no deal at all.  But we weren’t part of that deal. 
Now, no doubt some people here would look at the South African population size and say Britain has a bigger population than that and should have been at the table.  But we share policymaking decisions with neighbouring countries on subjects that affect how we can respond to climate change, and we’ve agreed with them ways in which we will act together – that’s via the European Union.  If we get our act together, in sheer numerical terms we’d warrant a place at the decision-making table, all 499,800,000 of us – third largest population bloc after China and India. 

Copenhagen should act as a real kick up the backside to those that don’t want us to act together as a European Union on the world stage – if we don’t, we don’t count. That’s it.  The Commonwealth’s not a real alternative – India was at that top table in its own right, not representing the Commonwealth.  In any case it’s hard to believe that the sort of people that advocate Commonwealth over EU would see India speaking for them in the international environment in any case, they probably imagine that the UK could successfully lead the way internationally without the need for a power bloc to back up our international standing.  
But Copenhagen showed a new set of powers – not the old cold war blocs any more but a multilateral world where being big matters.  The USA and India are not out to protect the UK’s interests, but the EU is, not least because a powerful Britain is a key market and a defence leader for the other Member States. 
So the choice is EU, or insignificance.
Somehow, I think I’m going to want to be involved in this.   

5) We’ll take some lifechanging decisions…
We gain more family down under this year, but lose family in the Midlands.   This changes our lives as well as theirs – not least because at least one holiday in four will now need to be on the other side of the world. 
As a minimum, I’m going to lose some weight.
But whether it’s jobs or the size of our family, given our ages (mine, my husband’s and our son’s) decisions we make now will affect us in the long run.  I just pray that God is with us as we make them.

6) And I’ll keep writing…
I’m enjoying having a public space in which to comment on things that interest me.  Hope you’ll keep reading.  And a very happy new year.